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Valentine’s Day Rules

Leaders in some Muslim countries do not like their citizens to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Officials in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Iran try to discourage people from following Valentine’s Day customs.

Here are some of the reasons given by strict Muslim leaders for not allowing the customs.

  • Muslims say that Valentine’s Day is an invented celebration, not found in Muslim law.
  • Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day, so Muslims should not.
  • Some Muslim officials say that Valentine’s Day causes youth to keep their minds on foolish things.
  • ”It promotes love,” complain some Muslim leaders.

But many youth in Muslim countries celebrate Valentine’s Day anyway. Very strict Muslims often have many rules that are difficult to follow. They believe that following the rules might help them earn their way to heaven.

“At age 16, I no longer wanted to be a Muslim,” said a youth in Malaysia. “There were too many rules.”

Some Muslims who are weary of all the rules are seeking truth outside of Islam. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) Pray they will find Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. (See John 14:6.)

Read the post Learn About Valentine to learn more about the history and legends that inspired Valentine’s Day.


Hajj 2012

Al-Haram mosque

Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is a holy city to Muslims. By law, non-Muslims may not enter the city. Highway signs direct non-Muslims to exit before reaching it.

Once a year, Muslims from all over the world travel to Mecca for a pilgrimage called “the Hajj,” which happens during the Muslim calendar’s month of Zulhijjah. Muslims can go to Mecca for “the lesser pilgrimage,” known as “Umrah,” at other times during the year.

In 2012, the Hajj will occur in late October. The Hajj ritual lasts several days. As part of the ritual, visitors enter a large mosque and walk several times around the Kaaba, a cube about the size of a house. A special black stone is inside the Kaaba. The pilgrims kiss the stone or point to it.

Later the Hajj visitors gather pebbles to throw at walls. The walls are the symbol of Satan.

Muslims believe that Allah asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael. (The Bible tells us in Genesis 22 that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.) Abraham, Ishmael, and Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, are remembered in the Hajj rituals.

For many Muslims, the Hajj is the high point of their lives.

Six-year-old Hamza, an American Muslim, said, “You go to the black stone and kiss it to take away all your bad deeds, and that gives you new life.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, and ask a mature Christian to explain the verses to you if you don’t understand them. How does the Bible say we receive “new life?”

Photo credit: Al Jazeera English / Wikipedia (CC BY SA 2.0)


More News from Iran

Saudi Arabia

Iran used to be called Persia. The body of water between Iran and Saudi Arabia is commonly known as the Persian Gulf. But most Arab countries call it the Arabian Gulf. In 2010, Iran threatened to ban or seize airplanes of any airline flying over Iran that called the gulf the Arabian Gulf.

Now some Iranians are upset again because the Internet site Google Maps left out the name of the gulf entirely. A government spokesman in Iran said Google is “fabricating lies.”

Lawyer Arrested

Pastor Youcef is a prisoner in Iran because he protested a government rule that said children must study the Quran in school. The Quran is the Muslim holy book. Pastor Youcef, a Christian, did not want his 8 and 9 year old sons to be forced to study the book. (You can read more about Pastor Youcef at www.prisoneralert.com.)

Recently Pastor Youcef’s lawyer was reportedly sentenced to nine years in prison for “acting against national security.” Now other lawyers may be afraid to help Pastor Youcef, fearing they might be imprisoned.


Ask a VOM Worker: Countries, Part 2

VOM

Question: Which countries need prayer the most?

Answer from a VOM worker who deals with the Middle East: I think my heart goes out the most to Saudi Arabia. It’s very closed and secretive. There are few believers, and those who are there have to be very secretive. They cannot talk about who they are or where they are. I also feel the need to pray for Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. They have had unrest, but there is also a great openness among the people to the gospel.


Ask a VOM Worker: Countries

VOM

Question: Which of the countries you have visited is your favorite? Which countries need prayer the most?

Answer: My favorite is Sudan because that was the first one I went to and the one I have visited the most. Ministry has changed a lot there over the years. When I first went there, it was an open war zone. You could do whatever you wanted and didn’t have to hide because it was already a war zone.

The need for prayer changes, depending on all that’s happening. Right now Pakistan is very much in the forefront. But probably the country that’s most on my mind in North Korea. It’s probably the most restricted nation, or one of the top two. The other is Saudi Arabia.